Considering all their anger against “socialized” and “radical” government, I, like most of you, thought Republicans were energized, ready to break polling place doors down last Tuesday.
I thought the spirited battle to retake the Senate seat that Evan Bayh is deserting would bring out the GOP voters. I mean, there was Dan Coats, returning home after years as a Washingtonian, plus a former congressman, a rising Republican star and a top Tea Party leader. With a statewide TV debate, numerous candidate forums and appearances, the TV and radio ads, you’d have thought the Republicans and their Tea Party brethren would crowd the polls.
That’s not what happened here in Indiana’s capital.
Only 50,992 voted in the GOP primary here in Indianapolis/Marion County. Sounds like a large number right?
Four years ago, in November 2006, just 52,814 voted straight Republican. Two years ago, while nearly everyone flooded the 2008 Democratic Primary, 47,131 voted in the Republican primary, when not much was at stake.
So, just 3,861 more Republicans, a jump of 8.2 percent voted in an exciting primary compared with a boring one two years ago.
So much for hatred of President Barack Obama, health care reform and such bringing out the Republican faithful.
The tepid Republican turnout was just one of the surprises of the May 4 election.
Another was Republicans rejecting a fresh face in the 7th Congressional District race.
Carlos May, the party’s endorsed choice who’d begun waging an energetic, visible campaign for the seat, was defeated by veteran campaigner Marvin Scott, one of the party’s few visible African-American candidates/leaders. According to the Federal Election Commission, Marvin Scott raised just one-eighth of the $71,000 raised by May, yet Scott smashed May 44.3 percent to 37 percent with a third candidate shockingly receiving 18.7 percent of the GOP vote.
Ten years ago, Scott lost to Julia Carson by 29,456 votes in a Republican year.
Now we have Carson vs. Scott II, the grandson against the veteran campaigner who has been running for office in Indiana since 1994.
Despite the Republican’s seemingly lackluster turnout, Democratic numbers were even more tepid. Overall voter turnout was an anemic 15.1 percent, though more people voted in this off year primary than voted in 2006 and 2002. But Democrats comprised just 41 percent of local primary votes, the first time that’s happened in a decade.
Unlike the Scott surprise, the slated (endorsed) Democratic candidates all won.
There was some backlash among some African-Americans in the sheriff’s race. A good number of Blacks questioned why top Black Democratic elected officials supported the endorsed candidate John Layton over African-American candidate Mark Brown. Some bloggers and a wannabe Black pundit openly said that Brown had strong support among Black voters.
Because some 40 percent of Indy’s Black population lives in a white-majority precinct, it’s virtually impossible to say for certain how this African-American community votes. But there is some intelligent analysis that can be done.
Of the city/county’s 590 precincts, 117 have Black-majority populations (per the 2000 census). Mark Brown won 24 of those precincts or 20.5 percent. Of his total vote, over a third, 34.8 percent came from all the Black majority precincts.
Brown did best in Pike and Lawrence Townships, winning eight of Pike’s 10 Black-majority precincts.
While Brown had Black support, he needed an overwhelming win in the city/county’s Black-majority precincts to pull off the upset. And he didn’t get it.
Also in Pike, African-American voters sent a strong message in the school board and referendum contests. Two Blacks, Regina Randolph and Yvette White, were elected to the school board, the first time two Blacks have ever been elected to the board at the same time.
Their election means Pike’s Board will have three African-Americans on it for the first time ever. It also insures that after the 2010 census data is released, Pike may move to a system of at large and district board seats.
Only eight of Pike’s 46 precincts are Black majority. But those precincts are politically potent. They provided a quarter of the “Yes” votes for the Pike Schools referendum; a quarter (24.6 percent) of Randolph’s votes and a third (33.2 percent) of White’s votes.
Meanwhile IPS adds a new Black Board member, Samantha Adair-White, who won the hotly contested District 3 race. Adair-White beat the favored candidate Josefa Beyer, who was backed by outgoing District 3 board member Kelly Bentley.
Adair-White’s victory was cemented by targeting her efforts in the Meridian-Kessler, Butler Tarkington and Devington neighborhoods.
It was a lack of targeting votes that caused the favored Leroy Robinson to lose the At Large IPS race against Annie Roof. Roof used her base in the eastside Irvington neighborhood along with support in other predominantly white areas of IPS. Robinson did well in some Black neighborhoods, but had no real base of strong support.
What I’m Hearing in the Streets
Would someone please tell Marion County Public Safety Director Frank Straub to take a chill pill? (Since I’m not sure he reads the Recorder).
Straub got testy during an interview on WTLC-AM1310’s Afternoons with Amos last Friday after hearing complaints from listeners about overzealous police treatment. Straub got upset that Blacks weren’t more grateful and/or understanding of the decision to deploy 130 IMPD officers, including some 40 rookies fresh out of training, into the hottest crime spots in majority-Black neighborhoods.
Straub also was angered when I criticized his announcement of the crackdown time (2:30 p.m.) and day (Wednesday afternoon as this newspaper went to press) as inconvenient to Indy’s Black media and as not keeping the Black community informed of the department’s plans.
Deploying a virtually all-white force of rookies into our troubled streets raises community concerns that some of those rookies (along with veterans) will continue to show hostility and contempt instead of the community friendly policing that IMPD claims they’re implementing.
Yes, Frank Straub, we want more police on our streets. But our African-American community wants those officers to be professionally trained, experienced, and culturally competent to deal with Black folks. We want more of them to look like us. And for them to treat our community with the same respect that you’d demand if officers stopped you.
And so far, you’ve not convinced or demonstrated to our Black community that your Public Safety Department can handle that task!
See ‘ya next week!